Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines (2003)

Rating: **
Release Date: 7/3/03
Producer: Gale Anne Hurd
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kristanna Loken, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes

Very, very silly. "T3" is a half baked self parody that rehashes ideas and events from the first two films without a shred of originality or ingenuity. The film exists solely to cash in on the waning Terminator franchise and does nothing to extend it. Ten years after Sarah and John Conner stopped Judgment Day, John (Nick Stahl) has become a drifter, unsure of the future and his destiny. Unable to track his movements in the past, the machines send yet another terminator (Kristanna Loken) into the past to kill off John's lieutenants in the resistance, and once again the humans manage to send their own terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to protect them. Ho hum. A girl from John's past, Kate Brewster (Claire Danes), enters the picture, and she becomes the prime target for both terminators due to her role in future events. Judgment Day has merely been postponed, so our heroes desperately try to shut down the new and improved Skynet before it goes online and destroys humanity.

If nothing else, "T3" will be known as the film that made Kristanna Loken a star. She captures all of the cold rage and fierce determination of the perfect killing machine, and her intense gaze and aggressive posturing are simply intoxicating. If I had a single complaint about her, it would be that she talks too much. I would have preferred her to have no dialog at all, but that's just me. Apart from her, the only things worth mentioning are a really nice car chase, some shockingly (or laughably) extreme violence, and a handful of nifty visual effects.

James Cameron's hand is sorely missed in this film, as neither the story, characters, direction, or effects have any depth or feeling to them. It's one long flight from persecution that tries to keep the mindless action coming fast enough to distract you from the silly and incoherent plot. And like many sequels, since the writers couldn't come up with anything original or interesting, they turn to comedy, which further derails any chance of taking the film seriously. For a big budget film, a lot of the special effects are downright embarrassing (including one of the worst wire stunts I've seen in years). The action sequences are meticulously constructed, but fail to be interesting due to a lack of tension. Pretty disappointing all around, with the exception of luscious Kristanna Loken and the refreshingly downbeat ending.